Peter Lozano Flores repeatedly told Judge Lyle R. Anderson on Feb. 4 that he wants to defend himself against the 19 felony charges and three misdemeanor offenses that he faces in connection with the Jan. 25 incident. Anderson ultimately agreed to Flores’ request, but the judge said he believes the 41-year-old Garland, Texas, man is making a “terrible mistake.”
Flores is set to appear in court on Feb. 18 to face second-degree felony charges of assault against a peace officer/military service member and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle.
The Grand County Attorney’s office has charged him with 17 additional felonies, including 10 third-degree felony counts of possessing, selling or transferring information from a financial transaction card. Other charges include failure to stop or respond at the command of police, possession or use of a controlled substance, possession of another [person’s] identifying documents and forgery-falsification [of a] license/ special plate/ permit.
The most serious charges stem from allegations that Flores injured Grand County Sheriff’s Deputy Zane Lammert by ramming a stolen BMW into the deputy’s parked vehicle on Castle Valley Road.
The impact of the crash also knocked Flores unconscious, bringing an end to an alleged high-speed chase on Jan. 25.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Kerry Ball reported that the chase began at about 8:30 a.m. that morning, after he clocked an unregistered white BMW speeding eastbound on Interstate 70 near Thompson Springs.
Ball tried to stop the vehicle. But instead of slowing down, the BMW driver allegedly raced off at speeds that topped 100 miles an hour, according to Ball’s report.
At one point, the BMW pulled off to the side of the interstate and a woman later identified as Courtney Breann York stepped out; the 20-year-old Leonard, Texas, woman was later taken into custody.
The driver of the BLM eventually veered off I-70 near Cisco and rushed down state Route 128, Castle Valley Road and the La Sal Mountain Loop Road, evading road spikes along the way.
Authorities say the suspect eventually turned around and drove back down Castle Valley Road. Ball and Lammert were at the scene when the BMW driver approached their vehicles and then came to a stop.
Lammert ordered the driver to step out of the car, but Flores allegedly accelerated the BMW and crashed into the deputy’s vehicle while Lammert was still behind the steering wheel. Lammert sustained minor injuries as a result of the crash.
Flores was transported via air ambulance to Utah Regional Medical Center in Provo for medical treatment; he was later booked into the Grand County Jail, where he remains on a no-bail hold.
Many of the charges against him are based on allegations that authorities found a stolen Arizona license plate, numerous credit cards and several different identification cards when they searched the BMW.
Flores, who faces up to 95 years behind bars if convicted of all charges, voluntarily waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Feb. 4.
In the moments beforehand, Judge Anderson tried to assure Flores that a defense attorney could guarantee that the proper legal procedures are followed. In addition, the judge noted that an attorney might be able to help Flores find an “impossible hole” in the state’s case.
“You will be at some disadvantage in some respects if you [represent] yourself,” Anderson said.
Flores, who repeatedly called himself a foreigner, said he understands the potential downsides to his decision. But he insisted that he will have more “strength” if he represents himself in court.
“Me being a foreigner, I feel more comfortable,” he said.
Flores’ co-defendant readily accepted the court’s offer to appoint Grand County Public Defender Don Torgerson as her attorney.
York faces 16 felonies and two misdemeanors, including receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle and 10 counts of possessing, selling or transferring information [from] a financial transaction card.
The Grand County Attorney’s office has also charged her with two counts of forgery-falsification [of a] license/special plate/permit, obtaining encoded information on a financial transaction card and possession or use of a controlled substance.
York remains in custody at the Grand County Jail; the judge set her preliminary hearing for Feb. 18.